Using Everyday Lesson to Teach Kids about Money

This post was underwritten by BMO Harris Bank, which offers a matching $25 on a new savings account opened for your child through their Helpful Steps for Parents program. Learn more at

Halloween is my favorite holiday. Always has been. It’s not just about the candy though. It’s about being able to assume another personality and dress in wacky, crazy ways that would otherwise be totally frowned upon. Oh yes, I have a deep infatuation with dressing up (yes, I was a drama kid in high school … or, as we called it, a thespian). Despite that, I don’t believe in spending a lot of money on costumes — especially not the cheaply made ones that are so prevalent these days.

In the past, I’ve steered Will and Paige towards inexpensive options and simply vetoed the ones that were beyond what I wanted to spend. But this year I took a different approach and set a costume budget for all: $15. Then I empowered them to decide for themselves.

It was a good teaching moment.

For Paige, who is almost four, grasping the budget was the challenge. Though she can read numbers, she needed help finding costumes within her budget. I pointed out all the costumes that fit the criteria, and she quickly chose a witch costume that she adored.

Will, on the other hand, knows number sequences, so he was able to read the prices and find ones within his budget. It was a harder choice for him, since the flashier (and way beyond the budget) costumes can be alluring. However, he took time to look all through the costumes and found an Optimus Prime one that excited him and fit within the budget.

So did they understand this whole budgeting thing? On varying levels, yes. In setting the budget, I explained that costumes aren’t something that lasts — and even if it did, would we want them to?  That money is better spent on things that really matter like good food, clothing and shelter. And what we don’t spend can be saved. It was a good introduction to budgets, which is something I’ll continue to teach them about as the holidays approach.

I love using everyday lessons like this to teach the kids about money. It’s one thing to explain the value of a dollar or a quarter or whatever and an entirely different one to put it into context for them. Similar lessons can be found at the grocery store (pointing out which fruits and veggies are on sale, for instance), when buying treats and shopping for presents.

How do you teach your kids about money?

And PS … We finally had our Halloween on Saturday — and it was awesome.

Disclosure: I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. To learn more about BMO Harris Bank, visit their website


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